VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Daytona Beach police officer was doing what thousands of officers in Central Florida are doing right now, riding around in our communities on a routine patrol when officials say he was shot in the head.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones sat down with the Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell, who had two officers shot in the line of duty four years ago while out on patrol.
“It’s eerily similar to our situation with Matt and Sam, so it takes you back,” O’Dell said.
It was four years ago when O’Dell got the call that Kissimmee police officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were shot while checking out a report of a suspicious person.
That’s exactly what officer Jason Raynor, 26, was doing in Daytona Beach when he was shot.
“The hard part for our officers is you don’t know what evil is in people’s heart,” he said.
It’s what makes policing so tough, O’Dell said, especially at a time when there’s been nationwide focus on police accountability and allegations of police brutality.
Body camera video released from the Daytona Beach shooting don’t show any of that.
“He wasn’t yelling or screaming. The officer is doing exactly what we ask, and this is what happens,” O’Dell said. “It ought to make everybody mad, and I hope it makes the right people mad so they come forward.”
The officer was alone, so Channel 9 surveyed law enforcement agencies in Central Florida and found that this is standard for most agencies unless the officer is working in a special unit.
The Daytona Beach police chief said he will begin partnering up his officers immediately. Kissimmee did the same after losing Howard and Baxter, but like other agencies told us, O’Dell said there aren’t enough resources to sustain that.
He’s hoping this latest tragedy sparks more lasting change.
“I hope the community is watching and takes heed to just how dangerous this job is and the overwhelming number of officers out there are doing a professional job,” O’Dell said.
Some agencies told us the only other time you might see two officers in a squad car is if an officer’s vehicle is being repaired or they’ve run out of cars.